Second brief submitted; Next week is critical
Second Brief Submitted
On Wednesday we submitted our second brief to the court blasting the City’s arguments against the petition’s legality (read the brief here). The City’s arguments are namely that:
The proposed surcharge on construction permits is a tax rather than a fee, and therefore not permitted because it requires approval from New York State;
The High-Rise Safety Fund, in which revenues would be deposited and rolled over from year to year to be used for investigations when a high-rise collapses, is not permitted under the New York State Financial Emergency Act for the City of New York, which requires the City to have a balanced budget with current year revenues equaling current year expenditures;
The petition does not give adequate notice to voters about the effect of the proposed charter amendment;
The petition is “advisory” rather than being a real and practical amendment to the City Charter, because it deals with a matter that is not primarily of local concern.
In addition, the City is attempting to have the proceeding dismissed on a procedural technicality. On all issues, we believe we have argued decisively. On the issue of the High-Rise Safety Fund allegedly violating the balanced budget requirement, we have also made a compelling argument for the severability of that section, if need be, because the severance would be minimal and clearly compatible with the language and intent of the petition. We encourage you to read our second brief here. Our first brief can be read here, and the City’s brief can be read here.
Next Week Is Critical
The court-appointed referee, Louis Crespo, is scheduled to issue his report this coming Monday. The referee’s report is essentially an initial decision to be affirmed or reversed by the judge. After the report is issued, we expect Justice Paul Wooten to call a hearing for the middle of next week, in which he will probably ask to hear oral arguments from both sides. We then expect a decision by the end of next week or early the following week (Monday, September 22), which then leaves approximately 10 days for an appeal from either side to take its course the October 3rd cutoff date. By three weeks from today we will know if the High-Rise Safety Initiative is to be on the November 4th ballot.
All in all, the direction of our case will become clear next week. We will keep you informed as it unfolds. For now, please keep your fingers crossed, and thank you for helping to bring the campaign to this critical stage.